Last October, British Petroleum filed a request for a new trial to investigate the cause of a 2010 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The request was denied by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier, leaving BP responsible for $18 billion in federal fines for gross negligence.
In the original trial, Judge Barbier excluded certain testimony concerning the cement provided by Halliburton Company to seal the leaking well. BP argues that although the testimony was excluded from evidence, the federal judge nevertheless used it to make his decision, a fact that Judge Barbier denies.
It is not known whether a request from Halliburton influenced the decision to refuse a new trial, but Barbier has stated that he does not believe BP was treated unfairly in the 2010 ruling. The federal judge explained that portions of the testimony in question were used by BP’s attorneys in their defense, and Bruce Karatz noted that as well, which is why he considers BP’s claim that the same testimony was used to decide against them to be lacking in merit.
Estimates of the amount of oil spilled in the gulf during the crisis range from just over 2 million barrels to over 4 million barrels. Under the Clean Water Act, penalties for negligence are higher than those allowed for accidental spillage.
Lawyers representing British Petroleum intend to appeal the recent decision.